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GSD urges Govt to ‘slow down’ on abortion issue

The Gibraltar Government’s decision to produce a command paper on abortion is “far too accelerated” given the sensitive nature of the issue, which “requires the utmost care” in how it is handled, the GSD said yesterday.

The party was reacting to government plans to produce a command paper by the end of the summer as part of a wider consultation on potential changes to Gibraltar’s existing law on abortion.

While it is still unclear what changes if any the government will propose, the GSD is urging a slower pace to the process and said it was still undergoing its own consultation before drawing up a policy on abortion.

“This is an issue deserving of the most serious and careful consideration,” GSD Leader Keith Azopardi said.

“We make no apologies for thinking this process should not be hurried.”

The GSD said it had been considering the issue of abortion for some months and was undertaking its own consultation process to conclude its own policy consideration in this important area.

The party has already met the Pro-Life Movement and has requested to meet the Pro-Choice lobby to consider the views of both groups.

Additionally Mr Azopardi has formed a sub-committee of the party which will table recommendations for the GSD executive.

It will also consider any command paper issued by the government and any changes in the law that are being contemplated.

“At this stage we have not yet reached the point at which we are ready to make any policy announcements but we will do so in coming months as necessary,” Mr Azopardi said.

“Additionally we make clear that if what is eventually proposed by government is not, in our view, appropriate or in the public interest, we would not support such changes.”

In a statement, the GSD also reflected on the recent judgement of the UK Supreme Court relating to abortion law in Northern Ireland.

It is this judgement which is largely driving the Gibraltar Government to contemplate changes in the law.

But according to the GSD, the judgement was “hardly a unanimous endorsement that there should be wide-ranging changes” in Northern Ireland’s abortion laws.

The GSD said the judgment was mixed and was reached only by “a slim majority” of 4-3.

“The judges also recognized that the Northern Irish law pursued a legitimate aim of protecting the life, health and welfare of the unborn child,” the GSD said.

“Only in very restricted and defined extreme circumstances of fatal foetal abnormality, rape or incest did the court, by majority, think the law was too restrictive in Northern Ireland.”

“The judgment is not an endorsement of abortion on demand.”

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